Review by Marc Bowie
Like all rock, unless it’s a retro act, Tokyo-based quartet Tropical Death’s five-song 2017 EP, Modern Maze, reaches backward while at the same time extending a hand to the future, as it’s rooted in the fertile soil of many punk and post-punk offerings yet pushes up wild blooms of strum [sic] and drang. As the Escher-like cover art hints, the music on tap twists and turns between almost atonal blasts of noise and distorted yet melodic passages powered by ferocious drumming.
The metallic K.O. guitars on the title track are bracingly brittle while singer Eugene Roussin’s deadpan vocals on the verses would bring a smile to the likes of Lou Reed … or at least less of a sneer. On Tropical Secrets he spits out the lyrics in counterpoint to the twin guitar attack and tub-thumping bass. Like Louie Louie pre-Iggy, you’re not sure if the lyrics to So Wet are filthy or not, but guitarist Tete’s smeary wah-wah playing hints at erotic aquatic doings best done in private. Summer of Sin commingles the most recent U.S. election with getting your braces off, which is either very disturbing or perfectly captures the zeitgeist of today’s America; perhaps both.
The EP is available as a download or cassette, and the focus on the latter recalls the glory days of New York indie label ROIR, which issued Suicide and Bad Brains albums exclusively on tape. If you like your rock loud, thrilling, and thought-provoking you’ll like Modern Maze. Best taken with water.
Listen on Bandcamp: https://tropicaldeathband.bandcamp.com/album/modern-maze